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Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqgol3sEFvI.
Quick Facts: Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists
2021 Median Pay $29,680 per year
$14.27 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2021 608,900
Job Outlook, 2021-31 11% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 65,000

What Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists Do

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and other services related to personal appearance.

Work Environment

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work mostly in barbershops or salons. Most are full time, although part-time work is common. Work schedules may vary and often include evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Barber, Hairstylist, or Cosmetologist

All states require barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates typically must graduate from a state-approved barber or cosmetology program and pass an exam.

Pay

The median hourly wage for barbers was $14.41 in May 2021.

The median hourly wage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $14.26 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 93,800 openings for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists Do About this section

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists
Hairstylists provide hair styling and beauty services.

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide haircutting, hairstyling, and other services related to personal appearance.

Duties

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists typically do the following:

  • Inspect and analyze hair, scalp, and skin to recommend services or treatment
  • Discuss hairstyle options
  • Shampoo, color, lighten, and condition hair
  • Chemically change hair texture
  • Cut, dry, and style hair
  • Trim facial hair
  • Receive payments from client
  • Clean and disinfect all tools and work areas

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists provide hair and other services to enhance clients’ appearance. Common tools may include combs and hairbrushes, clippers and scissors, straight razors, blow dryers, and curling and flat irons. They also may keep records of products used and services provided to clients, such as hair color, hair treatment, and clipper setting.

Those who operate their own barbershop or salon have managerial duties that may include hiring, supervising, and firing workers. They also may keep business and inventory records, order supplies, and arrange for advertising.

Barbers shampoo, cut, and style hair, mostly for male clients. They also may fit hairpieces, provide facials, trim beards and mustaches, and offer facial and head shaving. Depending on the state in which they work, some barbers are licensed to bleach, color, and highlight hair and to offer permanent-wave services.

Hairstylists and cosmetologists offer a wide range of hair services, such as shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling. They often provide consultation and advise clients on how to care for their hair at home. Some also clean and style wigs and hairpieces.

Hairstylists and cosmetologists also provide facial and scalp treatments, makeup analysis, and skincare and nail services. In addition, some recommend hair care or skincare products. For more information about workers who specialize in skincare treatment or in fingernail and toenail services, see the profiles for skincare specialists or manicurists and pedicurists, respectively.

Work Environment About this section

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists
Barbers usually work in barbershops and must stand for long periods.

Barbers held about 50,200 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of barbers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 73%
Personal care services 25

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists held about 558,700 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists were as follows:

Self-employed workers 47%
Personal care services 47
Retail trade 5

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work mostly in barbershops or salons, although some work in spas, hotels, or resorts. Some lease booth space from a salon owner. Others manage salons or open their own shop after several years of gaining experience.

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists usually work in pleasant surroundings with good lighting. Physical stamina is important because they are on their feet for most of their shift. Prolonged exposure to some chemicals may cause skin irritation, so they often wear protective clothing, such as disposable gloves or aprons.

Work Schedules

Most barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists are full time, although part-time work is common. Work schedules may vary and often include evenings and weekends—times when barbershops and beauty salons may be busiest. Those who are self-employed and operate their own barbershop or salon may have long workdays, but they usually determine their own schedules.

How to Become a Barber, Hairstylist, or Cosmetologist About this section

Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists
Workers must obtain a license through a state-approved barber, hairstyling, or cosmetology program.

All states require barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists to be licensed. To qualify for a license, candidates typically must graduate from a state-approved barber or cosmetology program and pass an exam.

Education

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists usually must complete a state-approved barber or cosmetology program. Admission to these programs varies by state, with some requiring a high school diploma or equivalent. Programs typically involve a mix of classroom studies and hands-on training and lead to a certificate or other postsecondary nondegree award. Some states require health and safety training as part of these programs.

Workers may continue to take advanced courses in hairstyling or in other personal appearance services throughout their careers to keep up with the latest trends. Those who want to open their own business also may benefit from taking courses in sales and marketing.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists must obtain a license in order to work. Qualifications for a license vary by state. Generally, a person must meet state-specified minimum age requirements, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have graduated from a state-licensed barber or cosmetology school.

After completing a state-approved training program, graduates take a state licensing exam that includes a written test and, in some cases, a practical test of styling skills or an oral exam.

In many states, cosmetology training may be credited toward a barbering license or vice versa, and a few states combine the two licenses. A fee usually is required to apply for a license, and continuing education units (CEUs) may be required with periodic license renewals.

State reciprocity agreements may allow licensed barbers and cosmetologists to get a license in another state without needing additional formal training or state board testing. Contact your state licensing agency for details.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists must keep up with the latest trends and be ready to try new hairstyles for their clients.

Customer-service skills. Workers must be friendly, pleasant, and able to interact with clients to build and retain clientele.

Listening skills. Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists must be attentive when clients describe what they want to ensure satisfaction with the result.

Physical stamina. Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists must be able to stand for long periods.

Tidiness. Workers must keep their work area clean and sanitary for the health and safety of their clients. They also must keep a neat personal appearance so that clients feel comfortable and want to return.

Time-management skills. Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists need to manage their time efficiently when scheduling appointments and providing services. Clients who receive timely hair care are more likely to return, and some services, such as hair coloring, require precise timing.

Pay About this section

Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Median hourly wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations

$22.00

Barbers

$14.41

Barbers, hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists

$14.27

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

$14.26

Personal appearance workers

$14.22

 

The median hourly wage for barbers was $14.41 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.79, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $25.60.

The median hourly wage for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was $14.26 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.03, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $28.40.

In May 2021, the median hourly wages for barbers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Personal care services $14.37

In May 2021, the median hourly wages for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Personal care services $14.26
Retail trade 14.16

Barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists may receive tips from customers. These tips are included in the wage data shown.

Most barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists work full time, although part-time work is common. Work schedules may vary and often include evenings and weekends—times when beauty salons and barbershops may be busiest. Those who are self-employed and operate their own barbershop or salon may have long workdays, but they usually determine their own schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Personal appearance workers

13%

Barbers, hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists

11%

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

11%

Barbers

8%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Overall employment of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 93,800 openings for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Much of the projected employment growth in these occupations is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020 and is likely to occur early in the decade.

The need for barbers and hairdressers will stem primarily from population growth, leading to greater demand for basic hair care services. In addition, an increased demand for hair coloring, hair straightening, and other advanced hair treatments is expected to continue over the projections decade.

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists continue to compete with providers of specialized services, such as nail and skin care. Consumers often choose manicurists and pedicurists and skincare specialists for these services, rather than to visit hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists for them. Still, employment is expected to grow to meet increased demand for personal appearance services.

Employment projections data for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Barbers, hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists

39-5010 608,900 673,800 11 65,000 Get data

Barbers

39-5011 50,200 54,400 8 4,200 Get data

Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists

39-5012 558,700 619,500 11 60,800 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Manicurists and pedicurists Manicurists and Pedicurists

Manicurists and pedicurists clean, shape, and beautify fingernails and toenails.

Postsecondary nondegree award $29,210
Skin care specialists Skincare Specialists

Skincare specialists provide cleansing and other face and body treatments to enhance a person’s appearance.

Postsecondary nondegree award $37,300

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, including education programs and state licensing, visit

American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS)

Beauty Schools Directory

National Association of Barber Boards of America (NABBA)

National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC)

For information about other professional links, visit

Professional Beauty Association (PBA)

O*NET

Barbers

Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Barbers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/barbers-hairstylists-and-cosmetologists.htm (visited November 22, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.